Another beloved craft beer has found a deep-pocketed backer

90billboardDogFish Head BreweryDogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA

A popular Delaware beer with a cult following is taking on a private equity investor, the latest sign of craft beer’s growing clout in the industry.

New York private equity firm LNK Partners is taking a minority position in Dogfish Head Brewery, according to the BeerNet blog. The company and the private equity firm did not return calls for comment.

Dogfish Head has a dedicated following of beer aficionados in part thanks to its focus on high-quality ingredients. In 2014, the brewery was ranked among the best-selling craft beers in the US.

The deal comes as M&A in the beer industry has gotten, well, heady. Shares of SABMiller recently soared on the news that Anheuser Busch InBev is looking to buy out the company.

But the large beermakers have also inked a string of acquisitions of their tiny rivals in an effort to cater to many different tastes instead of just cranking out one bland brand.

Big beer is spending to fend off an all-out assault from craft beer. In recent years, the number of small independent brewers in the US has swelled to more than 3,000.

Last year, Anheuser Busch InBev bought craft brewers Long Point (New York) and 10 Barrel Brewing Company (Oregon). In 2011, it guzzled down Goose Island, based in Illinois.

Anheuser Busch InBev’s target is also playing the craft beer game. Within its portfolio, SABMiller’s investments include Franciscan Well brewery. The conglomerate is home to dozens of beer brands across the globe, and looking to expand its profile of craft beers.

To put the industry’s smaller brewers’ clout into perspective for stock market investors: Boston-based brewery Samuel Adams (by size, now, no longer eligible for ‘craft beer’ status due to its growth) has appreciated at more than double the rate of that of either SABMiller or Anheuser Busch InBev over the last five years. It’s shares are up more than 200%.

As for Dogfish Head, don’t expect an IPO for this IPA: in an email from CEO Sam Calagione, BeerNet quotes the boss as saying “this [is] not a path toward IPO.”

The industry’s rising clout can be best summed up with this chart:

Sam Adams Craft Beer Revolution ChartSkye Gould/Business InsiderCraft beer production has been on the rise recently.

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